Journey 181: Geek Day

Today isn’t a national holiday, even on the unique holiday sites that I check out occasionally. However, my journey on this day definitely had a theme that coursed through it. It was a walk on the geeky side, so I dubbed this day Geek Day.

geek day im still a geek

The term “geek” has changed considerably over the past 10 years. At one time, a geek was considered an intellectual person who was somewhat socially inept. The popularity of the long running TV series, The Big Bang Theory, plays up that aspect of geekiness, while at the same time, making socially awkward funny and okay. Today’s definition of geek is more broad. Urban Dictionary defines the word as an outwardly normal person who has taken time to learn technical or specialized skills, either around computer or gaming technology or a particular hobby or passion.

I can’t deny that I have been considered a geek since childhood. I loved science and math, along with literature and art. Zoology, botany, astronomy, chemistry, earth science….were all favorite topics of  mine. Algebra, geometry, calculus, trigonometry…I took all the math classes available in high school. Band, Star Trek and later Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit all further revealed my geeky side. I didn’t mind at all! It was part of who I was and still am.

geek day doctor who voyage of the damned

Today was a fun reminder of the joys of geekdom, beginning with a couple of Doctor Who episodes with grandson Dayan. We love this British TV series which highlights the adventures of The Doctor and his companions through Time and Space. We watched The Voyage of the Damned, which put a clever spin on the tale of the Titanic, followed by Partners in Crime. This episode featured little pudgy creatures made up of adipose, the layer of fat beneath the skin…and they were cute, rather than menacing! I recalled a remark my biology teacher made back in high school. He suggested Adipose would be a great name for a baby girl! My daughters are grateful, I’m sure, that I didn’t agree.

geek day doctor who adipose

Before I headed home, Dayan showed me a great T-shirt that his stepdad Josh bought for him. It proudly states the benefit of coming to the geek side. I love it! And I love this grandson who is every bit as geeky as his Yaya is.

geek day dayans t shirt

As darkness fell this evening, I had the opportunity to see a phenomenon in the western sky that was perfect for Geek Day. The planets Venus and Jupiter have been engaged in a dance during the month of June, day by day drawing closer…and closer…together. This evening they are the closest they will get, within a third of a degree. Some have compared the conjunction of these two bright night sky objects to the Bethlehem Star, which according to the Bible, appeared in the sky to announce the birth of Jesus. Whether it is the same occurrence, or not, and whether it happens rarely or more often, it was a spectacular sight to see. As one who has studied the heavens since childhood, it was beautiful to witness. The binoculars sharpened the view, but the pair was easily visible with the naked eye, both shining brightly opposite a nearly full moon.

geek day jupiter and venus close up

And lastly this evening, I had the opportunity to make use of technology to talk to my great-nephew Ethan on his birthday. We used FaceTime and I enjoyed getting to look at some of Ethan’s birthday presents and see a demonstration of how his new computer monitor works.

Ethan is a brilliant child, full of delightful geekiness, like so many in my family. This intelligent, funny, sweet natured boy turned 10 years old today. He excels at using the computer and at playing and creating computer games. Ethan loves to sing, watch movies, and learn interesting facts and trivia about a broad range of topics. He is an excellent big brother to Kaleb and protective toward his younger cousins. He also loves astronomy. What a happy occurrence that the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter happened on his birthday. I am excited to see what opportunities present themselves to this remarkable boy as he journeys through life.

geek day ethans birthday

It’s been an interesting journey today, and one that reminded me of some of my favorite things in life. My early interests transformed into lifelong loves and hobbies…botany became a passion for gardening, Star Trek led me to the works of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis and now into the Doctor Who universe…band brought me a deeper appreciation of music and musical arrangements…and I still use math and science daily. I am glad that being a geek is no longer seen as socially unacceptable. After all, it is just another facet of personality that makes up part of a larger whole…in me, in Dayan, in Ethan…in other family members. We all belong to our own little geek club. And that is just fine with me.

geek day being a geek

Journey 180: Have a Snack

Ive been wanting to do this pay it forward activity for a while, ever since Dayan and I saw the idea on Facebook. I had to wait until I rented another DVD before I could carry out my plan.

Before I returned Still Alice to the store, I wrote a note that says “Enjoy the movie…and a snack! Pay It Forward!” and taped it and a couple of $1 bills inside the DVD cover. Easy to do. I know the store employees pop open the cases to make sure the DVDs are present, before returning the movies to the shelves. I hope he or she was okay with my surprise!

And I hope the next person who rents the DVD enjoys the surprise. That’s the fun…and the trust factor. Once they leave my hands, these “pay it forwards” go out and where they end up and who is touched by them is beyond what I need to know.

It is totally up to the next individual whether they pay the act forward, or not. Again, that’s beyond my control, which I love. The truth is, no act of kindness, large or small, goes unanswered, no act of love is in vain. The ripples move outward, and goodness follows. And that is all I need to know.

Journey 179: Still Alice

I don’t usually post two movie reviews, back to back. However, I stopped by the DVD rental store Friday. I had no particular movie in mind. I just slowly walked the new release section, to see if anything grabbed my attention. I made it to the S section before I zeroed in on a DVD. I brought home Still Alice.

still alice movie poster

Still Alice stars Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish, Shane McCrae, and Stephen Kunken and was directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. The drama is rated PG-13 for mature themes and very brief language and has a run time of 1 hour and 41 minutes. Julianne Moore won an Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of Alice.

Alice Howland (Moore) is a renowned linguistics professor at Columbia University, happily married, with three grown children. She has just celebrated her 50th birthday and life is grand. Except, Alice is experiencing these nagging little incidents. She struggles to come up with the right words and names at unexpected times, gets lost during a jog on the university campus, and loses her train of thought during a lecture.

Thinking it might be menopause, or worse, a brain tumor, Alice seeks out a neurologist, Dr. Benjamin (Kunken), for a diagnosis. After a series of tests, she is shocked to learn that she has a rare form of early on-set Alzheimer’s Disease. With her husband John (Baldwin) beside her she tells her children, Lydia (Stewart), Tom (Parrish), Anna (Bosworth) and Anna’s husband Charlie (McCrae), that she not only has the disease, but it is genetic. It is possible that her children have the mutated gene as well, which means a 100% chance that they, too, will have the early on-set Alzheimer’s. Anna and Tom choose to be tested. Anna is positive for the gene also.

The disease progresses rapidly and Alice’s world changes just as rapidly. She leaves her teaching position at the university, finding it too difficult to lecture coherently. Alice is resourceful, though, and uses technology to help her. The smart phone becomes her memory, and every morning, at 8:00 am, an alarm sounds. Alice has a list of questions that pop up: What is her older daughter’s name? What is her address? What month is her birthday? She films a video for herself and stores it in her computer. At the bottom of her list of questions are instructions to watch the computer video, file name Butterfly, when she can no longer answer the questions. The video details how she can find a hidden bottle of sleeping pills and take them all…and sleep.

The Alzheimer’s Association invites Alice to speak at a conference. Using a technique she came up with, of underlining the sentences that she wrote with a yellow highlighter so that she doesn’t lose her place, Alice delivers a personal and moving speech about what it is like to live with the disease. She quotes the poet Elizabeth Bishoponce, who wrote, ”The Art of Losing isn’t hard to master: so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.” Alice goes on to detail what she is losing daily…her bearing, objects, sleep…but mostly she is losing her memories. She is little by little losing pieces of herself.

Alice’s family supports her, even as they watch the wife and mother that they know slip away. Anna and Charlie, after years of infertility, become pregnant with twins after fertility treatments. They have the embryos tested for the defective gene. Lydia, who lives in California, and is pursuing an acting career, struggles the most with the changes that are transforming her mother, and yet she is the most real and direct about those changes. She eventually moves home to live with her mother while her father takes a position with Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Life has become simple for Alice, who truly lives in the moment. And it becomes simple for Lydia as well. She watches over her mother, and loves her.

This film caught my interest during the Academy Awards. Greg’s mother, Leta, died of Alzheimer’s 16 years ago. For almost a decade, her family watched her and loved her as the disease robbed her of her memories, of her ability to care for herself, and eventually of her speech and consciousness. She died peacefully at home, with her husband, whom she had not recognized for some time, holding her hand.

As I stood Friday, with the DVD in my hand, I wondered whether I really wanted to watch this movie, or not. I brought the DVD home. Tonight, with Sadness and my cat, Angel, as companions, I decided that yes, I did want to watch it. This was a beautiful film. My initial reaction was to resist Alice’s memory lapses, as if somehow I could will her not to go down that path. But, of course, Alice had no choice. I accepted that and allowed the film to unfold, moving me, bringing me to tears, scaring me, actually, that the mind can so quickly slide into confusion.

As Alice learned to adapt and accept her life, I learned to accept her journey as well, along with Leta’s similar journey. Both inhabited the moment so purely, so simply, so completely. Alice smiled to cover her confusion, watched what others did so that she could copy them. Greg’s mother did the same, and became like a small child, trusting, sweet, happy, for the most part. I was very glad, in the movie, that when Alice accidently discovered the video that she had previously recorded, her ability to remember limited her ability to carry out the instructions. By the time she found the pills and attempted to take them, her caregiver arrived. I am not making a statement about whether it is right or wrong to take one’s own life, under such tragic circumstances, however, Alice still had love and beauty in her life, and I am glad she remained present in it.

In the final scene, Lydia is quoting a beautiful story to her mother, which has at its core that nothing is lost forever, nothing is wasted, especially not life. Alice is not able to communicate well, but she smiles tenderly at her daughter. “Mom,” Lydia asks, “can you tell me what the story was about?” Alice smiles again and whispers….”Love”.  Lydia smiles back. “That’s right, Mom…it was about love.” That’s what this movie was about too. Loss….and love. I am glad I watched Still Alice. I am glad that I didn’t push Sadness away but embraced her, allowing her to infuse me with compassion for those who are struggling with this insidious disease, and with acceptance for all the richness and beauty that life brings, even when it pierces the heart.

still alice losing parts of herself

Alice, losing pieces of herself.

Journey 178: Jurassic World

Twenty-two years ago, I saw Jurassic Park, and marveled with other movie goers over the special effects that brought dinosaurs to life on the big screen. Although the sequels were decent enough, neither had the surprise factor or the visual impact that the first movie did. Today, my mom and sister Linda accompanied me to see the long awaited new installment in this franchise…Jurassic World. Enough time has passed that we were ready to venture back into the world of genetically modified dinosaurs.

jurassic world logo

Jurassic World stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson. The action/sci-fi was directed by Colin Trevorrow. It is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and peril and has a run time of 2 hours and 4 minutes.

Set 22 years after the disaster at Jurassic Park, the improved theme park on Isla Nublar is open and doing well. The park is full of new, genetically modified dinosaurs. Although attendance has been good at Jurassic World, the number of attendees has steadily declined in the past decade. As park operations manager Claire Dearing (Howard) explains to future investors, people are no longer impressed with dinosaurs. They want to see something bigger, more fierce, more menacing. With that in mind,  InGen, the park’s in house lab facility, has created the next exciting attraction at Jurassic World….the Indominus Rex.

However, prior to unveiling this newest “asset”, as the dinosaur is referred to, the park’s owner and CEO, Simon Masrani (Khan), has some concerns. He asks Claire to have former US Navy man and the park’s raptor researcher, Owen Grady (Pratt), to take a look at the facility housing the Indominus Rex, and evaluate both the structure and the dinosaur.

Claire and Owen have a strained relationship. She is an organizer, a numbers person, cool, detached and very business-like. Owen is flirtatious, humorous, easy going, but very serious when it comes to dinosaurs. He is working with the park’s raptors and has trained them to respond to commands given by him. He has become more than their trainer. Owen is the Alpha, the leader of the raptor pack. His work has captured the attention of Vic Hoskins (D’Onofrio), chief of security at the park, who believes the raptors have potential for use as military weapons.

jurassic world indominus rex

Owen and Claire stand in the observation area of the Indominus Rex habitat, watching for her, but she appears to have escaped. Alarmed, Claire heads to the control room to search for the dinosaur’s whereabouts by way of her implanted tracking device. Owen and two park workers enter the habitat, and are ambushed by the dinosaur. Owen escapes but the workers are killed. The newest dinosaur in the park crashes through the wall of her enclosure and the havoc and killing begins.

Claire’s young nephews, Zack (Robinson) and Gray (Simpkins) are visiting the park. While their aunt is busy with the investors and park business, the boys slip away from Claire’s assistant and enjoy the many rides and attractions at the park. They are in the gyro-spheres when an emergency shut-down of the park is put into effect. The boys, who have wandered off track, have their own encounters with Indominus Rex and must use every bit of the ingenuity and courage that they possess to survive and get back to the main park.

It’s beast versus man as Indominus Rex runs amok, killing for the pleasure of it, learning to adapt and threatening thousands of people who are trying to flee the island. Claire and Owen, with his raptor pack, must bring this asset down, or risk the loss of many lives and the future of the park.

This was a fun movie to watch, although there were long sequences of intense action that made me jumpy! There was a parallel between what Claire told the investors, about people being used to seeing dinosaurs, so they wanted bigger, meaner beasts, and the film itself. Indominus Rex was the solution to raise attendance at the park. She was intended to be the solution for the movie as well, for we who are familiar with the Jurassic Park films have seen dinosaurs roaming the valleys of the island, interacting with people. And we’ve seen the T-Rex in action as the big bad boy of the film, while the raptors were the sneaky villains. We, too, are used to dinosaurs.

Jurassic World had to bring more than the surprise value of living behemoths and a few rogue dinosaurs hunting people down. It brought a bigger, meaner, smarter, more adaptable dinosaur….it brought indominus…which means “fierce, untamable”. It brought the surprise of the raptor pack, those sneaky dinosaurs, working with humans. Did the film deliver? Some don’t think so. Some do.

I enjoyed the movie, as pure entertainment. It brought back nostalgia, as soon as the familiar theme music played. There were similarities between Jurassic Park and Jurassic World…a young sister and a brother on their own, endangered by dinosaurs….and two young brothers facing the same threat, and in each film, a strong single woman and a knowledgeable man who are attracted to each, eventually, as they work together to save people’s lives. I believe the similarities were intentional, to bridge the two films, and to remind the audience of all that they loved about the original movie.

I found the special effects to be very good. And some surprises unfolded, one of which elicited an out loud exclamation from me! I’ll just say, beware the resident Mosasaurus in the murky water. That thing is huge! It was a fun way to spend the afternoon, with my mom and sister, watching an action packed movie. And if there’s ever a real Jurassic World Theme Park….you can bet….I won’t be there! I know how it goes. Those dinosaurs never stay in their enclosures!

jurassic world park

Journey 177: Gorgeous Twilight Sky

This is not the post I had intended for this evening. But when I walked outside, after a day of rain, I was completely captivated by the sky! This beautiful display of billowing thunderheads, enhanced by soft pink, gray and turquoise, was not in the west, but due south. The setting sun was responsible. Yet I’ve never seen such an enchanting sky in the south as the sun dipped below the western horizon. 

I love being surprised by beauty. It pierces the heart in a pure and profound way. This simple journey was the perfect end to the day. 



Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
                            Rabindranath Tagore

Journey 176: The Surrender Experiment

My life, my journey, has been deeply impacted by the writing of Michael A. Singer. I first discovered him through his book, The Untethered Soul, released in 2007. I have read this book and listened to the audio of it so many times, and every single time, it stirs my heart and soul and raises my awareness, while beckoning me onward. I desire that untethered life of peacefulness, of unbridled joy, where the day’s events don’t unsettled me at all.

surrender experiment

The book club I am part of is currently reading through The Untethered Soul and I was very excited to learn one evening, from my friend Cate, that Michael was releasing a new book, The Surrender Experiment. The subtitle of this book is “My journey into life’s perfection”. I have wanted to read Michael’s story, and understand the path his journey took. It has been a delight to read this book, which I finished tonight, and I am once again encouraged in my own journey.

The Surrender Experiment is the account of Michael’s personal journey, beginning with an awakening in his early 20’s. Determined not to be controlled by his fears or allow his likes and dislikes to dictate his life, Michael began an experiment. He opened to opportunities and possibilities, responding to the situations life brought to him by doing the very best he could and offering the result back to the world, as a gift. If he found himself resisting an idea or an opportunity, he learned to let go…and flow with, rather than against, life.

The flow of life, the guidance of the Divine, took him from being a young man living alone in the woods, meditating and practicing yoga, to acquiring hundreds of additional acres and creating a community of like hearted souls to share the journey with, to becoming the CEO of a huge, successful computer software corporation, to a raid by the FBI because of unfounded accusations by a former employee who embezzled company funds. In this amazing journey, Michael discovered the perfection of allowing his life and his growth to be directed by all that was unfolding in the present moment.

There are a few books that I have read that so resonate with me that a deep sense of stillness comes over me, just reading the words within. The Surrender Experiment is one of those books. In the past few years, I too have experienced the exciting and profound growth that takes place as I stay in life’s flow, guided by the Divine. I’ve come to see myself as immersed in a great river that takes me exactly where I need to go, so long as I stay in the middle of it, in the flow. I can try resisting the flow, by swimming upstream, which drains my energy, wearing me out physically and emotionally and spiritually. Or I can remove myself from the flow and become stagnant, watching as life and opportunities pass by…an observer of life rather than a participant. I choose to stay in the flow.

This is what Michael’s newest book is about….surrendering to that flow….being engaged with what comes to him or where he is swept off to. His level of surrender was so inspiring to me. There is such a deep element of trust and faith involved, when I can’t see beyond the bend in the river, can’t know for sure, or at all, where the flow of life is taking me. However, I am learning that it is all for my good, all for my growth, all to help me release old energy and old habits so that I am, truly, free, untethered, moving beyond. Anything the flow of life takes me to, it will also take me beyond, if I will stay in that flow.

There was an experience in Michael’s life that shifted everything for him. He understood that he was holding himself back in his spiritual journey by thinking of parts of himself as the enemy that needed to be destroyed. In his mind, he kept that struggling person with his restless energies and chattering thoughts locked in a room. The day he opened the door to that mental room, and accepted himself, saying “You can come out now”, was the day his heart broke open and wholeness began.

I was there, four years ago. The day I threw open the locked door to a fiercely guarded room in my heart and told my intuitive self, my weird side, my feared side, “It’s okay, I accept you”, and embraced her, was the day wholeness started for me. There has been no looking back. And now, my journey, the flow of my life, has brought me to this author, this book, this time of growth, at this precise time, which is all perfect.

“Eventually, even the mind stops resisting, and the heart loses the tendency to close. The joy, excitement, and freedom are simply too beautiful to give up. Once you are ready to let go of yourself, life becomes your friend, your teacher, your secret lover. When life’s way becomes your way, all the noise stops, and there is a great peace.”

                                                                        Michael A. Singer, The Surrender Experiment

I am excited to see where the flow of life, the guidance of the Divine, takes me next.

surrender experiment michael a singer

Michael A Singer

Journey 175: Ye Olde King Pizza

I’ve been a bit under the weather the past 36 hours, and have subsisted on a few spoonfuls of soup. However, this evening, after another enjoyable Doctor Who marathon with Dayan, I felt better, and hungry enough to try real food. 

Pizza might not be the first choice of food for most, after not eating for two days, but I’ve been wanting to try a new pizza restaurant in Joplin. Late this afternoon I carried out a cheeseburger pizza from Ye Olde King Pizza, located at 31st & Main. 

Here’s the story on this restaurant, which is really more of a return to Joplin rather than a new venture. 

A King Pizza franchise was purchased more than 30 years ago by Willard Stout. That restaurant, which was quite successful, was located near 20th & Connecticut. Eventually the pizza joint was relocated to 21st & Range Line, under its new name of Pizza by Stout. 

This popular restaurant was destroyed by the 2011 tornado and the owners made the decision not to rebuild. Brian Myers approached the owner of Ye Olde King Pizza in Fayetteville, AR, about purchasing a franchise and bringing King Pizza back to Joplin. 

The restaurant has been open a short time and business is great. I stopped by for carry out about 4:30 and the restaurant filled up while I was there. Back home, I tried a slice of the cheeseburger pizza, complete with dill pickles and mustard, and it was wonderful! I was a frequent diner at Pizza by Stout, and this tastes like their pizza. 

I’m thrilled that this franchise has come full circle in Joplin. I’ll frequent King Pizza as well. And, it seems pizza was not a bad choice this evening, after all. I believe I’m on the mend! 


Journey 174: Inside Out

My granddaughter Aubrey and I had the opportunity to spend the day with my sister, Linda, and her granddaughter London. We declared it a girls’ day and it was the perfect way to spend a summer afternoon.

girls day ice cream

The girls enjoyed lunch at Chick-Fil-A, with fun time in the indoor playground area, surrounded by a crowd of kids. They finished their outing there with vanilla ice cream. Later in the day, they cooled off by splashing around in a kiddie pool in Linda’s backyard and playing in the play room together.

girls day aubrey jumps

girls day london jumps

The highlight of our day was a trip to the movie theater to watch the new animated release, Inside Out. All of us were excited about this film. Aubrey has been watching previews for days, in preparation for the movie. London bought Inside Out figurines, so of course, Aubrey had to get some too. As we arrived at the theater, the girls were busily chatting about the characters, and speculating about what part the elephant, Bing Bong, played in the story.

girls day inside out

Inside Out is a Pixar Animation Studio/Walt Disney Pictures film featuring the voices of Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan.  Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen directed and wrote the story. The comedy drama is rated PG and has a run time of 1 hour and 34 minutes.

Riley Anderson (Dias) is a happy eleven year old girl, thrown into confusion when her family leaves their home in Minnesota and moves across the country to San Francisco, California. While her mom and dad (Lane and MacLachlan) deal with a missing moving van and the stress of new jobs, Riley struggles with adjusting to a new home, new friends and a new school. She is guided by her emotions Joy (Poehler), Sadness (Smith), Fear (Hader), Anger (Black) and Disgust (Kaling) who occupy space inside Riley’s brain, a place they refer to as Headquarters. The emotions direct her through every day life and situations, while keeping tabs on the colorful spheres that accumulate, each holding a memory from the day.

girls day inside out riley

Joy is Riley’s primary emotion, present with her since birth. Using optimism and high energy, she keeps the other emotions in check and strives to keep Riley happy and smiling. With the move, however, the other emotions are in conflict with Joy, especially Sadness, who while moping around, keeps touching the memory spheres, changing them from joyful yellow to tinged with blue sadness.

When Joy and Sadness are accidently relocated deep within Riley’s long term memory, the other emotions attempt to monitor and help Riley, who becomes angry, fearful and disgusted with her situation and her parents. Joy and Sadness watch helplessly as Riley sinks into resentment as she longs to return to Minnesota. While they are making their way through the girl’s memories, imagination and dreamscape, heading back to Headquarters with Riley’s core memories, they observe her personality shifting, her core values falling away into the desolate area of forgotten memories.

With the help of Bing Bong (Kind), Riley’s imaginary friend from her early childhood, Joy and Sadness navigate through a confusing and often treacherous landscape, learning how important it is for all the emotions, especially Sadness, to be given importance, if not dominance.

girls day inside out voices

This was a delightful movie. And one that provided an interesting and often humorous look at the warring emotions inside each of us. I watched, amused, as Joy rallied the other emotions and sent a steady stream happy memories and reminders to Riley, keeping her upbeat. With her highly positive outlook, she reminded me….of me. What was portrayed very well, and impacted me the most, was the role Sadness played in creating a sense of compassion and companionship between Riley and her parents. It turned out Riley needed her lower emotion of Sadness to be able to appreciate her family and her past experiences, and to appreciate Joy more.

I have struggled with the emotion of Sadness in my own life, denying it for years, refusing to give in to it, to the point where I have lost the ability to freely shed tears. It’s not that I want to be ruled by Sadness, or dwell there very often or for very long, but watching the emotions in this animated film brought to my awareness how important ALL of my emotions are, and that they all have value and something to offer to me if I will accept those gifts. I could almost hear my own version of Sadness breathe a long sigh of relief as I “got it”. And I was ruled, dominated, by the emotion of Fear for an unnaturally long time. It has taken a very conscious shift within to loosen Fear’s hold on me. I am grateful that Joy is my primary emotion now, yet I desire to be mindful of what my other emotions are alerting me to.

The girls chatted about the movie afterward, and perhaps not surprisingly, both had sympathy and appreciation for Sadness as well. Aubrey used to play a little game with people, when she was only two years old. She would rest her hand lightly the leg or arm of another, feeling into their emotions, and ask, “Are you happy, mad or sad?” Watching Inside Out today, I recognized that she has had a very healthy relationship with her emotions for her entire life.  It is amazing what I can learn from an animated movie. I appreciate the girls for suggesting this film. We all want to see it again!

girls day movie stand up

The girls hamming it up with a movie cut out.


Journey 173: Sebastian the Spider

I had a fun, quirky journey today, that sought me out and invited me along. Many people hang objects from their rear view mirrors….stuffed animals, necklaces, angel charms, tassels from their graduation caps. I don’t normally have anything hanging from mine. However, when I slid into the driver’s seat in my car this morning, after Zumba class, I discovered something dangling there below the mirror.

He wasn’t present when I left the car, but he was busy creating now. Fine silken threads ran from the mirror to the steering wheel, and the little guy was himself clinging to a strand attached to the mirror…a thread so fine he appeared to be floating in the air. He grew still and I became thoughtful, watching him.

spider thread

That out of focus dark blob beneath the mirror is Sebastian. My phone camera couldn’t figure out what I was trying to focus on.

He was tiny, and dark brown, a variety of garden spider that is making itself at home in my backyard paradise. My car is parked in front of my home, under a shade tree. With the high temps today, I left the passenger side windows down to allow heat to escape. Apparently, my little friend blew in through the open window, on his light-as-air strand of silk. I have never had a fear or sense of disgust toward spiders. They fascinate me. Missouri only has two venomous spiders, the brown recluse and the black widow. I am familiar with both and recognize them when I see them. This tiny specimen was harmless.

And so an odd friendship developed today, between the spider, whom I promptly named Sebastian, and me. The motion of the car disturbed him slightly, so he retreated to the mirror, where he crouched for a good portion of the day. I was in and out of the car frequently, taking care of business, running errands, going to and from the office and to a closing late this afternoon. At each stop, I left the windows down, so that the heat wouldn’t dry little Sebastian out, and so that he could leave, anytime he chose to.

spider mirror

Those dark little bumps at the bottom of the mirror are Sebastian…and his reflection.

However, each time I slid into the car, I checked the mirror, and there he was, watching me. Or at least, I think he was. Occasionally, as I drove, he would unfurl his long legs and crawl up onto the mirror. I would speak kindly to him, and I swear, he would do a little spider shimmy dance on the mirror before returning to the edge to perch. He appeared to be showing off! I assured him that he was safe with me. I don’t like to snuff out life, even among insects or snakes. I’ll swat a mosquito if I have to, and even then I try to warn them off before doing that. I can’t say that I invite ants or mice or slugs into my home, but I respect all life, and look for alternative ways to deal with unwelcome guests.

As the day progressed, I expected Sebastian to leave. I smiled each time I returned to the car and spotted him there on the mirror. Yet, as I drove home at 6:00, ready to park the car for the night, I didn’t want to leave him shut up inside. There were two reasons for that: I expected him to get busy again creating a web once the car was quiet and still, and, there was no food source for him inside the car. I didn’t want to find him curled up dead the next morning. As I parked again beneath the tree, I picked up a couple of sheets of paper, and talking to him, carefully transferred Sebastian from the mirror to the paper.

I rested the paper against the rough bark of the tree, thinking he would scurry away. He didn’t. Stretching out his legs, he seemed content. I was walking slowly to the front porch, with the intention of anchoring the sheet of paper to bench with a flower pot, when nature took care of the situation. A gust of wind rattled the paper and suddenly, Sebastian was airborne, a tiny speck of brown lifting with the breeze, and then he was gone, carried gently to a new home where he could build his web.

spider sebastian

Finally, a clear image of Sebastian, resting on sheets of paper.

What an intriguing journey. I can’t explain why Sebastian spent the whole day on my rear view mirror, or the sense of peace and joy I felt at having him there. I spent a few minutes this evening looking up the symbolism for spiders. We associate words with animals. A dove represents peace, a dog loyalty, a horse strength, cats independence. I wondered what spiders signified. I know many people are afraid of spiders and would have very negative words for them.

This is what I found. Spiders are ancient symbols of mystery, power and growth. They are also considered symbols of feminine energy, patience and creativity. Dreaming of spiders, or dare I say, connecting with a spider while awake, is a reminder that just as a spider weaves and constructs its web, so I make choices that weave the threads of my life together, creating my story. Sebastian’s presence quietly challenged me to be mindful of the life I am weaving and the story I am telling.

I also discovered that the often maligned spider is a symbol for infinity. With its eight legs, and eight eyes for most species, the spider is associated with the number eight, which represents cycles, the passage of time and growth. The eight, turned on its side, becomes the symbol for infinity. I am very aware of that symbol, as I encountered it often last year connected to my word Beyond.

I am grateful for that little spider. I enjoyed his company today. And without saying a word, unless his dances were attempts at pantomime, he offered wisdom to me and nudged my curiosity, which always leads to a learning moment. Yes, I see things differently. I watch for lessons from the Divine, think about the strangest things, connect the dots….and marvel. And, I am okay with that! I am embracing myself, quirks, talents, and flaws, and rejoicing in the uniqueness that is me. In doing so, I can also sincerely appreciate the uniqueness of others, of all life….even the uniqueness of little spiders who blow in through my window and hang out for awhile. I wouldn’t trade these journeys for anything!

spider web infinity

Journey 172: Father’s Day and Poldark on First Day of Summer

What do Father’s Day 2015, the BBC series Poldark and the first day of summer all have in common? Not a thing…except that they all fell on today’s date of June 21 and they were all part of my lovely journey today.

summer fathers day poldark nate megan and aubrey

Father’s Day began with surprising my son, Nathanael (Nate to most people), by joining him, his wife Megan and daughter Aubrey at their church this morning. Nathanael’s lovely wife set this surprise up and it was fun to watch my handsome son’s face as their car pulled up next to ours in the church parking lot. I have a silver Toyota Camry. There are lots of cars like mine and Nathanael didn’t think anything of it when they pulled up alongside a silver car. It took a few moments before he saw his dad and I smiling at him from my car. I enjoyed sitting with my son and Megan, singing praise songs, listening to the associate pastor speak this morning. I am so proud of my son. He is a wonderful husband and father, son and brother, police officer and man. Watching him with his wife, seeing him spend time with Aubrey, Oliver and Joey, knowing how he works to serve and protect his community, fills me with joy.

summer fathers day poldark linda nicole and kids

After church, Nathanael, Megan and Aubrey followed us to Golden Corral where we joined my mom and stepdad Walter, sisters Linda and Debbie, niece Nicole and her children Weston and Lola, and Linda’s granddaughter London. Aubrey and London got to sit together and giggle and chat like the best friends/sisters/cousins that they consider themselves to be.

summer fathers day poldark dinner

summer fathers day poldark debbie

It was a lively and fun lunch, with lots of trips through the buffet line. (When you are helping children fill their plates, you really do go through often!) My stepdad is a quiet, wise man who stepped into a ready-made and growing family when he married my mom. I appreciate him and his good nature and giving heart. I am typing this blog and just realized that in the rush to get to the restaurant, I left my stepdad’s Father’s Day card in the car, where it remains! He will not be surprised.

summer fathers day poldark mom and walter

I thought of my dad often today. He stepped into eternity five years ago. I think of him every day, sometimes with a sense of disbelief still that I can’t pick up the phone and call him. I know he is near, just around the corner, just in another room, and that we will be reunited someday. I talk to him often, sense his presence. When I look at my son, I see the strong resemblance between grandfather and grandson, and it reminds me how very near my father is. He is, and will always be, my dad. I believe he is proud of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

dad e

To finish off this beautiful start to summer, this day when sunlight lingered the longest, I enjoyed watching the BBC series Poldark. I have been anticipating purchasing the DVD of this series, which completed its first season in the UK. I didn’t know until recently that the series was going to air in the US, starting tonight! I’ve been so excited. Aidan Turner, who recently portrayed Kili in The Hobbit trilogy, plays Ross Poldark.

summer fathers day poldark aiden turner

Set in the late 1700’s, in Cornwall, England, Poldark is the story of a young man who returns home from the American Revolution to a changed world. His father has died, his family and friends thought he was killed in the war, his home and properties are abandoned and crumbling into ruin, and the woman he thought he would wed, is engaged to marry his cousin. With nothing to lose, Ross Poldark, who is considered a rebel, rolls up his shirt sleeves, assembles a group of friends, tenants and house servants, and begins the huge task of restoring his property and providing for those under his care.


Aidan Turner was amazing, as was the beautiful English countryside and the costuming. Like his fellow actor from The Hobbit, Richard Armitage, Turner has brooding down to an art and he is a joy to watch. I look forward to catching the next seven episodes on Sunday evenings.

What a wonderful day, this trio of special events that merged into one lovely journey. All changes of the seasons should be so perfect! Perhaps, if I view them as such, they all will be.

summer fathers day poldark